ALBUM OF THE MONTH/GIG REVIEW: Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land by MARINA (June 2021)

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

RELEASED: 11 June 2021

TRACKLIST: Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land; Venus Fly Trap; Man’s World; Purge The Poison; Highly Emotional People; New America; Pandora’s Box; I Love You But I Love Me More; Flowers; Goodbye

GIG SETLIST (13 June 2021) Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land; Venus Fly Trap; Purge The Poison; Froot; Man’s World; Highly Emotional People; Blue; New America; I Am Not A Robot; Pandora’s Box; To Be Human; How To Be A Heartbreaker; Bubblegum Bitch; I Love You But I Love Me More; Goodbye

If Kate Bush had given birth to a daughter rather than a son in 1998 and she had gone on to make records, one suspects they would have sounded like this 5th collection from Welsh singer/songwriter/musician/producer Marina Lambrini Diamandis.

  • Read on for reasons including what went down at the album launch show available online on Sunday 13 June

There’s a palpable anger here magnified from previous albums about a range of subjects including toxic masculinity, a feminism aligned with under threat environmental causes and concern about the effects of capitalism not least as a weapon against Mother Nature with both words heavily underlined.

Musically, the 4 songs that were released ahead of this 10-track collection’s launch are both the spikiest lyrically but also the most brimming with the sort of power pop with which MARINA 1st made her name as Marina and the Diamonds.

Man’s World was a song of the week for us in November and we said then: ‘She’s referenced previously her affinity with nature and a parallel is drawn here: ‘Mother Nature’s dying, Nobody’s keeping score, I don’t want to live in a Man’s World anymore.’

Purge The Poison was a song of the week for us in April and we said then: ‘On the evidence of this single she clearly has something to say and we can’t wait to catch up with her again in the live arena to find out more.’

Title track Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land was next out of the blocks and is almost prog rock, harking back to Bush’s most commercial 70s moments, but with MARINA’s own trademark operatic vocals which keep it both accessible and pop.

During Venus Fly Trap the spiky lyrics (‘Whatever you give life, you will get you back, Why be a wallflower when you can be a Venus Fly Trap’) are married to uptempo, guitar-led, anthemic power pop which should pack a live thrill.

Elsewhere, the album tracks are more contemplative. The last time we saw MARINA live at Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo the sentiment was definitely one of goodbye and the song of the same name here certainly seems to be bidding farewell to something while containing 70s riffs ABBA would be proud of.

New America allows her a channel to vent her fury with references to farming and food not tasting as it should while I Love You But I Love Me More provides a sense of self-worth against the background of a difficult relationship.

When MARINA bid us a live farewell in 2019 we didn’t expect to have a new album quite so quickly but we’re appreciating it all the more for the times in which it came into the world and the internet gig is a neat bridge between pre-Covid days and the opportunity we’re longing for soon to be part of an audience showing our appreciation for acts like MARINA.

Backed by a drummer, guitarist, violinist, cellist and 2 keyboardists, MARINA live-streamed an hour-long show from a desert in Los Angeles as the sun goes down to debut the album.

Standing on brightly coloured blocks, the wind in their hair, the band were beautifully shot and Ancient Dreams Live From The Desert was an imaginatively presented set which also included some of Marina’s most beloved material from her previous 4 albums.

She didn’t say a great deal but it’s exactly this sort of thought for her fans at a time when conventional gigging is all but impossible that will ensure interest remains high in her when things return to normal.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy MARINA
  • Have you seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email neildurham3@gmail.com and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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